Curator's Corner Blog

Monthly Archives: October 2012

Just In Time for Halloween- An Early Form of Horror Films

Like today, the later part of the 18th century had an obsession with the bizarre, unexplainable and supernatural. In the age of Romanticism and the Gothic themed novel, many were drawn to shows created by illusionis

ts and magicians to bare witness to the strange and bizarre. Such shows were often called “Phantasmagoria” shows, the Victorian era equivalent to present day horror films.

Without the modern day special effects and Hollywood magic, one had to use the technology that did exist. Athanasiun Kircher, a Jesuit priest, is credited with the invention of the “Magic Lantern”. The Magic Lantern consists of a concave mirror in front of a light source that gathers the light and projects it through a slide with an image, often hand painted, on it. The light hits the lens through the image, and enlarges the image on a screen. The biggest challenge with early form of the Magic Lantern was the lack of light technology yet in the 18th century. Candlelight provided some light, but it wasn’t until the invention of the Argand Lamp in the 1790s that a clearer image could be produced.

Multiple images could be used together to create a “moving image”. Later models of the Magic Lantern worked on a hand-operated pulley wheel that was used to turn a moveable disc that the images were connected to. Magic Lanterns also led directly to Eadeweard Muybridge’s invention of the zoopraxiscope, an invention that led to the creation of modern moving pictures.

These lanterns used light and shadows to trick and deceive the audience during Phantasmagoria shows. During these shows illusionists would use the magic lantern to trick people into thinking they had summoned up spirits, ghosts as well as revolutionary figures. A Belgium man, Etienne-Gaspard Robert was one of the most famous illusionists to use the Magic Lantern during his shows to create supernatural images of devils, phantoms and ghosts often projected on a gauze screen to make the figures appear as if they were floating. Even Kirchner’s original device was called the “lantern of freight” because of the images it conjured.





Historic Junk Food

Tis’ the Halloween season- full of scary costumes, haunts and spooks, and of course- lots of candy and junk food. The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula has decided to celebrate Halloween this year with a look back at historic junk food- and a few little known facts about some very popular brands. For instance- did you know that the term “junk food” was initially used in the 1960s but was popularized by the 1976 song “Junk Food Junkie”.

Historic Junk Food- A Window to the Museum Exhibit

There are lots of popular snack food brands to see in the exhibit, ranging from the 1930s to the 1990s, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, 7Up, Crush, Nabisco, Quaker Oats, Lipton, Cheerios, Eggos Waggles, Log Cabin Syrup, Jell-O and Whitman’s Chocolates only name a few.

Historic Junk Food- A Window to the Museum Exhibit

 We never want to give away too much of out exhibits- but here are a few of the fun facts about these brands!

Coca-Cola, RC Cola, Pepsi Cola and Crush OH MY!

Did you know that Alexander Samuelson of the Root Glass Company in Terre Haute, Indian, created the distinctive shape of the glass Coca-Cola bottle?

Did you know that it wasn’t until Walter Sharp stepped in as president of Whitman’s Chocolates that the well-known cross-stitch pattern on Whitman’s Chocolates Sampler boxes was first used? An actual sampler that hung in Sharp’s house inspired the design.

Did you know that Crush Soda is in over 14 countries world wide? This has resulted in a wide variety of flavors, including, Apple, Birch Beer, Chocolate, Ginger Beer, Grapefruit, Lemon, Peach, and Watermelon.

Did you know that a grade schooler as part of a contest to design the company’s brand icon in 1916 created the Mr. Peanut logo?

My Antonia Exhibits

We have partnered up with the Missoula Public Library for the month of October and the National Big Read Program! This year the chosen book is My Antonia by Willa Cather. My Antonia is the story of Jim Burden as his family homesteads in the new land of the Nebraska prairies. He meets Antonia and her family, Bohemian immigrants also new to Nebraska. The story is about growing up and witnessing these two diverse cultures collide.

With the Big Read, we have installed two separate exhibits. At the Missoula Public Library Main Branch is a visual representation of the three main characters of the book, Jim Burden, Antonia and Lena Lingard, a women Jim meets when studying at the university.

At the Missoula Public Library Big Sky Branch the broader story of homesteading in Montana is told, complete with historic photos, quilts and artifacts to portray the story. Come see a comparison of homesteading in Nebraska as compared to a local Montana family, the Flynns.

Don’t forget to check out the library’s website to keep up on all the exciting events happening all month long!

And come out for Homestead Day here at Fort Missoula Saturday October 20 from 1-5pm.